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Ranking Every USA Olympic Men’s Basketball Team


The 2016 United States Olympic Men’s Basketball Team is expected to soar to the gold medal in Rio. Even without LeBron James, Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and a handful of other NBA All-Stars who declined an invite, Team USA is by far the best team in the tournament. But where does this Olympic team stack up with previous Team USA squads?

Here’s a rankings rundown of the 17 USA men’s basketball teams in Olympic history:

Gold Standards

The USA has claimed the gold medal in 14 of the 17 Olympics in which Americans have competed.

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1. 1992 Barcelona

With 11 future Hall of Famers and one college legend, the original “Dream Team” changed the global landscape of basketball.

“It was like Elvis and the Beatles put together,” coach Chuck Daly said. “Traveling with the Dream Team was like traveling with 12 rock stars.”

Until further notice, the first team of NBA players remains the best.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 117.3

OPP. ppg: 73.5

Avg. Margin: 43.8 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Croatia (117–85)

Coach: Chuck Daly, Detroit Pistons

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Michael Jordan, G (14.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.6 spg)

Charles Barkley, F (18.0 ppg, 71.1 FG%)

Karl Malone, F (13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

Scottie Pippen, F (9.0 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2.9 spg)

Patrick Ewing, C (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg)

Magic Johnson, G (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg)

Larry Bird, F

David Robinson, C

Chris Mullin, F

Clyde Drexler, G

John Stockton, G

Christian Laettner, F

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2. 2008 Beijing

The “Redeem Team” had arguably the most athletic roster in Olympic history — with a young LeBron, D-Wade, Dwight and Melo, and a young-er Kobe.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 106.2

OPP. ppg: 78.4

Avg. Margin: 27.8 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Spain (118–107)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

LeBron James, F (15.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.8 apg)

Dwyane Wade, G (16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.25 spg)

Kobe Bryant, G (15.0 ppg, 2.8 rpg)

Dwight Howard, C (10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Carmelo Anthony, F (11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg)

Chris Bosh, F (9.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg)

Chris Paul, G (8.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.6 rpg)

Jason Kidd, G

Deron Williams, G

Tayshaun Prince, F

Carlos Boozer, F

Michael Redd

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3. 1996 Atlanta

It would be hard for any Team USA to deal with the size of this host nation roster — which included David Robinson, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 102.0

OPP. ppg: 70.3

Avg. Margin: 31.7 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (95–69)

Coach: Lenny Wilkens, Atlanta Hawks

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Charles Barkley, F (12.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 81.6 FG%)

David Robinson, C (12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

Scottie Pippen, F (11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.3 apg)

Reggie Miller, G (11.4 ppg, 17-of-41 from 3)

Shaquille O’Neal, C (9.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg)

Penny Hardaway, G (9.0 ppg, 4.4 apg)

Karl Malone, F (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg)

Grant Hill, F (9.7 ppg)

Gary Payton, G

John Stockton, G

Hakeem Olajuwon, C

Mitch Richmond, G

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4. 2012 London

LeBron joined Jordan as the only players to win MVP, Finals MVP, an NBA championship and Olympic gold medal in the same year. But it was Kobe who came through in the clutch, as Team USA outlasted the Gasol Brothers and Spain in the second-closest gold medal game in the team’s history.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 115.5

OPP. ppg: 83. 4

Avg. Margin: 32.1 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Spain (107–100)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

LeBron James, F (13.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.6 apg)

Kevin Durant, F (19.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 34-of-65 from 3)

Carmelo Anthony, F (16.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg)

Kobe Bryant, G (12.1 ppg)

Chris Paul, G (8.3 ppg, 5.1 apg)

Kevin Love, F/C (11.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg)

Deron Williams, G

Russell Westbrook, G

James Harden, G

Andre Iguodala, G/F

Tyson Chandler, C

Anthony Davis, F/C

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5. 1984 Los Angeles

Three future Dream Teamers (M.J., Ewing, Mullin), plenty of NBA-ready size (Tisdale, Perkins) and solid guard play (Roberton, Alford, Flemming) makes Robert Montgomery Knight’s squad the top Olympic college roster of all-time.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 95.4

OPP. ppg: 63.3

Avg. Margin: 32.1 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Spain (96–65)

Coach: Bob Knight, Indiana University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Michael Jordan, G (17.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)

Patrick Ewing, C (11.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg)

Chris Mullin, F (11.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.5 rpg)

Wayman Tisdale, F (8.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg)

Sam Perkins, F (8.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg)

Alvin Robertson, G (7.8 ppg, 2.1 spg)

Steve Alford, G (10.3 ppg)

Vern Flemming, G

Leon Wood, G

Joe Kleine, F

Jon Koncak, C

Jeff Turner, F

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6. 1960 Rome

With three of the NBA’s top 50 players — the Big O running the show, the Logo shooting from the outside and Lucas down low — it’s hard to deny that Rome witnessed one of the most talented and balanced (albeit top-heavy) USA rosters ever.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 101.9

OPP. ppg: 59.5

Avg. Margin: 42.4 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union

Coach: Pete Newell, University of California

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Oscar Robertson, G (17.0 ppg)

Jerry Lucas, C (17.0 ppg)

Jerry West, G (13.8 ppg)

Terry Dischinger, F (11.8 ppg)

Adrian Smith, G (10.9 ppg)

Walt Bellamy, C (7.9 ppg)

Robert Boozer, F

Lester Lane, G

Darrall Imoff, C

Jay Arnette, F

Burdette Haldorson, F

Allen Kelley, G

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7. 2000 Sydney

Vince-anity jumping over French 7-footer Frederic Weis was the highlight of this roster — which was the first Team USA that elite NBA players (looking at you, Shaq and Kobe) thought they were too cool to play on.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 95.0

OPP. ppg: 73.4

Avg. Margin: 21.6 ppg

Gold Medal Game: France (85–75)

Coach: Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston Rockets

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Kevin Garnett, F (10.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg)

Vince Carter, F (14.8 ppg)

Alonzo Mourning, C (10.2 ppg)

Ray Allen, G (9.8 ppg, 10-of-19 from 3)

Jason Kidd, G (6.0 ppg, 4.4 apg)

Allan Houston, G

Antonio McDyess, F

Shareef Abdur-Rahim, F

Vin Baker, F

Steve Smith, G

Gary Payton, G

Penny Hardaway, G

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8. 1976 Montreal

The electric Dantley was flanked by undefeated 1976 Hoosiers (May and Buckner) and coach Dean Smith’s Tar Heels (Kupchak and Ford), giving this team even more built-in chemistry than most.

Record: 6–0

USA ppg: 97.3

OPP. ppg: 83.3

Avg. Margin: 14.0 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (95–74)

Coach: Dean Smith, University of North Carolina

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Adrian Dantley, G (19.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

Scott May, F (16.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg)

Mitch Kupchak, C (12.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

Phil Ford, G (11.3 ppg)

Quinn Buckner, G

Kenny Carr, F

Tom LaGarde, C

Phil Hubbard, F

Walter Davis, F

Ernie Grunfeld, F

Tates Armstrong, G

Steven Sheppard, G

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9. 1956 Melbourne

As always, Russell — an 11-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion and gold medalist — turned defense into offense, en route to the greatest average margin of victory in USA men’s basketball history (53.5 ppg).

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 99.1

OPP. ppg: 45.6

Avg. Margin: 53.5 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (89–55)

Coach: Gerald Tucker, Phillips 66ers

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Bill Russell, C (14.1 ppg)

Robert Jeangerard, F (12.5 ppg)

Ron Tomsic, G (11.1 ppg)

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K.C. Jones, G (10.9 ppg)

Charles Darling, C (9.3 ppg)

James Walsh, G (9.1 ppg)

Burdette Haldorson, F (8.6 ppg)

Dick Boushka, F (8.0 ppg)

William Evans, G

William Hougland, F

Gilbert Ford, G

Carl Cain, F

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10. 1964 Tokyo

Iba’s first of two golds (and one silver medal) leading Team USA. Bradley and future bronze-winning coach Brown headline a relatively boring roster.

Record: 9–0

USA ppg: 78.2

OPP. ppg: 48.2

Avg. Margin: 30.0 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (73–59)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Jerry Shipp, G (12.4 ppg)

Bill Bradley, F (10.1 ppg)

Luious Jackson, F (10.0 ppg)

Joe Caldwell, G (9.0 ppg)

Larry Brown, G

Walt Hazzard, G

Jim Barnes, C

Melvin Counts, C

George Wilson, F

Pete McCaffery, F

Richard Davies, G

Jeff Mullins, F

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11. 1968 Mexico City

The inside-outside duo of Haywood and White might have trouble against some of the USA’s deeper rosters.

Record: 9–0

USA ppg: 82.1

OPP. ppg: 56.1

Avg. Margin: 26.0 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Yugoslavia (65–50)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Spencer Haywood, C (16.1 ppg)

Jo Jo White, G (11.7 ppg)

Michael Silliman, F

Charles Scott, F

Bill Hosket, F

Calvin Fowler, G

Michael Barrett, G

Glynn Saulters, G

Donald Dee, F

Ken Spain, C

John Clawson, G

James King, F

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12. 1948 London

Adolph Rupp served as an assistant coach on a team that preferred to squeeze the air out of the basketball and feed the post with Groza, Kurland and Barksdale.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 65.5

OPP. ppg: 32.0

Avg. Margin: 33.5 ppg

Gold Medal Game: France (65–21)

Coach: Omar Browning, Phillips 66ers

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Alex Groza, C (11.1 ppg)

Robert Kurland, C (9.3 ppg)

Don Barksdale, F (9.0 ppg)

R.C. Pitts, F

Raymond Lumpp, G

Wallace Jones, F

Gordon Carpenter, F

Vincent Boryla, G

Jesse Renick, G

Lewis Beck, G

Kenneth Rollins, G

Clifford Barker, F

Ralph Beard, G

Jack Robinson, G

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13. 1952 Helsinki

NIBL coach Warren Womble had a team that revolved around Lovellette — the first player in history to win championships at the NCAA, NBA and Olympic levels.

Record: 8–0

USA ppg: 70.3

OPP. ppg: 50.8

Avg. Margin: 19.5 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Soviet Union (36–25)

Coach: Warren Womble, Peoria Caterpillars

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Clyde Lovellette, F (14.1 ppg)

Robert Kenney, G (10.9 ppg)

Robert Kurland, C (9.6 ppg)

Ronald Bontemps, G

Dan Pippin, G

Marcus Freiberger, C

William Hougland, G

Wayne Glasgow, G

William Lienhard, F

Frank McCabe, F

Howard Williams, G

Charles Hoag, G

John Keller, F

Melvin Kelley, G

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14. 1936 Berlin

The first Team USA is the worst gold medal squad in history. In fairness, the game has evolved quite a bit since the Olympics’ top team averaged less than 40 points per game.

Record: 5–0

USA ppg: 38.0

OPP. ppg: 17.3

Avg. Margin: 17.0 ppg

Gold Medal Game: Canada (19–8)

Coach: James Needles, Universal Pictures

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Joe Fortenberry, C (14.5 ppg)

Frank Lubin, F (11.0 ppg)

Francis Johnson, G (10.0 ppg)

Sam Balter, G

Willard Schmidt, C

John Gibbons, G

Carl Shy, G

William Wheatley, F

Jack Ragland, G

Carl Knowles, F

Art Mollner, G

Ralph Bishop, G

Don Piper, G

Duane Swanson, F

Silver Screwed

The only Team USA to lose a Gold Medal Game refused to accept their silver medals.

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15. 1972 Munich

Controversy reigned supreme, as biased officiating led to the fist loss in USA Olympic men’s basketball history.

Record: 8–1

USA ppg: 77.3

OPP. ppg: 44.6

Avg. Margin: 32.7 ppg

Loss: Soviet Union (51–50)

Coach: Henry Iba, Oklahoma State University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Thomas Henderson, G (9.2 ppg)

Bobby Jones, C (9.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg)

Mike Bantom, F (7.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg)

Jim Brewer, F (7.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg)

Doug Collins, G (7.3 ppg)

Tom McMillen, F

Ed Ratleff, F

Kevin Joyce, G

James Forbes, F

Dwight Jones, C

Tommy Burleson, C

Kenny Davis, G

Bronze Busts

Unlike the 1972 squad, these two disappointments have no excuse for failing to even advance to the Gold Medal Game.

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16. 1988 Seoul

Team USA was no match for a Soviet Union roster of grown men — including 7-footer Arvydas Sabonis and wingman Sarunas Marciulionis.

Record: 7–1

USA ppg: 91.6

OPP. ppg: 61.3

Avg. Margin: 30.3 ppg

Loss: Soviet Union (82–76)

Coach: John Thompson, Georgetown University

Player, Pos. (Stats):

David Robinson, C (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg)

Dan Majerle, G (14.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)

Danny Manning, F (11.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg)

Mitch Richmond, G (8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg)

Hersey Hawkins, G (8.8 ppg)

Charles E. Smith, G

Charles D. Smith, F

Vernell Coles, G

Jeff Grayer, G

J.R. Reid, F

Willie Anderson, G

Stacey Augmon, F

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17. 2004 Athens

Larry Brown used the same starting lineup for all eight games — riding Iverson, Marbury, Odom, Jefferson and Duncan (in his only Olympic appearance) to an embarrassing 5–3 record while the 22-and-under crew of LeBron, D-Wade, Carmelo and Amare spent most of their time on the bench. After all, Brown is notorious for not playing young guys. He showed them. He showed us all.

The 2004 Athens Olympics was easily the worst showing in Team USA history.

Record: 5–3

USA ppg: 88.1

OPP. ppg: 83.5

Avg. Margin: 4.6 ppg

Losses: Puerto Rico (92–73), Lithuania (94–90), Argentina (89–81)

Coach: Larry Brown, Detroit Pistons

Player, Pos. (Stats):

Allen Iverson, G (13.8 ppg, 37.8 FG%)

Tim Duncan, C (12.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg)

Stephon Marbury, G (10.5 ppg, 3.4 apg)

Shawn Marion, F (9.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Lamar Odom, F (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg)

Richard Jefferson, F

Dwyane Wade, G

Carlos Boozer, F

LeBron James, F

Amare Stoudemire, C

Carmelo Anthony, F

Emeka Okafor, C